Dr. Sandra Cohen, a Beverly Hills psychoanalyst, writes about your favorite film, TV, and book characters
and their real human problems.

NEBRASKA — What does a son do when he feels his dad doesn’t love him? Either silently withdraw or take the road trip of his life to just spend a little time together. Director Alexander Payne has done it brilliantly again. Nebraska isn’t the road trip we took in Sideways. It’s a father-son road trip, and a touchingly redemptive ride it is, from Billings, Montana to Omaha, Nebraska with a stop in the fictional Hawthorne along the way. This beautiful, character-driven film, with a virtuoso performance by Bruce Dern as Woody Grant and a touching Will Forte as his son, David, asks a tough...

And the children in the apple-tree Not known, because not looked for But heard, half-heard, in the stillness … (T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets) PHILOMENA — Shame ravages. It eats away at you. It makes you collapse into yourself and live with secrets – seemingly too shameful to tell. Philomena Lee’s (Judi Dench) story is the story of shame. In Stephen Frears's film, Philomena, Philomena’s journey begins with shame until she comes full circle to where her shame began. Hers is the story of a hard won triumph over the forces that shamed her – a 1950’s Irish Catholic belief system capitalizing on shame and humiliation to...

Life In Space Is Impossible GRAVITY — What kind of beautiful and terrifying space doesGravity tell us about? The vast reaches of outer space, to be sure. Alfonso Cuaron’s film, Gravity, is a cinematographically beautiful cliffhanger of a space odyssey. Yet, there is a compelling psychological subtext: the gravity of Dr. Ryan Stone’s unresolved grief. What does a lonely woman, with absolutely no one, do when she’s lost the only person who gave her life the least bit of meaning?  She goes into the silence of an internal space - as far away from reality as she can, and with questionable desire to return....